Friday, 1 August 2014

One year down...

Hello again! I'm back from my summer holiday, and it's time to start a new year for the Finnish Retro Game Comparison Blog, which officially starts exactly one week from today. In this post, I shall tell you something of my future plans, show some statistics from the first year, and take a brief look at how the blog has evolved from before it was conceived to what it is now. If you feel no reason to read further, no problem, but I'd like to point out to at least of you, who have been requesting for old Finnish games, that you just might want to read a bit further.



Let's start with what has been accomplished in my "free" month. First off, I have been building an extension of sorts for the blog, inspired from a few e-mail requests sking for certain Finnish PC-games. So, this new website called Forgotten Repository is a storage for mostly very unknown games, be it freeware or shareware or whateverware, and most of them will require at least DOSbox, but some might not work unless you are running the game in a clean DOS environment on an old computer. FR has now been online for about a month, and will be updated every time I find something worthwhile to upload there, or if some of the game creators asks me to take something off from there. Not all of them are Finnish, though, so it's not specifically an extension for the Finnish gaming history entries. Since most of the featured games are of a charmingly low quality, I made the website to look stylistically fitting, and will keep it that way.

Secondly, issue #4 of RESET magazine will be released in a few days, ...
--UPDATE, 15th of August 2014--
The said issue has now been released in both physical and pdf formats, so it's time to update this bit here as well. This time, the Format Wars article puts the C64 against the 8-bit Atari computers with Fort Apocalypse. A slightly modified version of the comparison shall be posted on the blog in a few weeks, as usual.

Thirdly... well, this is not strictly retro gaming nor blog-related, but since I'm my own boss, I might as well advertise my band Jacques Daniels Project's new digital release of a song called "Back To Last Summer", available to listen to on YouTube and Spotify. HERE's the YouTube link, go have a listen. Now moving on.

After having gotten my first angry comment from an anonymous Amstrad fan, I decided I am going to update all my previous entries that have had updates in separate update posts, as far as I am able to edit the original posts in a way to keep the original posts as unedited as possible, if that makes any sense. In any case, most of these edits will require quite a bit of consideration and work, so I might not be putting out as much new entries as before in the immediate future, as much of the time will be committed to editing old comparison entries. You should expect my posting rate getting back to normal by October, hopefully.

Finally, I suppose I could mention a completely new type of a comparison that I started and very soon after quit working on - it was a special case of Sensible Soccer (or SWOS to be more precise) vs. Kick Off 2, because I couldn't bother to test out all the versions of either game in existence. So, apologies to a couple of friends who made the request regarding Kick Off 2, but it won't be happening. See, I really don't think much of football (meaning soccer to my American readers), and the only game I have ever bothered to play more than 10 minutes is Sensible Soccer, because it's more enjoyable for a non-football fanatic than any other game. A lot of Kick Off 2 fanatics say it's the more realistic one of the two, but to me, Sensi is more easy to pick up due to friendlier controls, good music and sound effects, and better graphics. Anyway, long story short, I became aware of THIS nice little report by Stuart Campbell, which pretty much says that whatever Dino Dini did, Sensible Software did it first, and achieved more constant success than the Kick Off series. So I dropped the comparison, so I could work on something more interesting - at least to myself. But who knows, perhaps the versus comparison thing might become reality with some other game later on...

Not gonna happen, folks.

So, to refocus my energy on something, I have started on a few quite interesting pieces, and additionally planned ahead for many months worth of comparisons, including some of the requests I haven't been able to do yet.



Sometimes, some readers that haven't been following the blog quite steadily enough or long enough, like to point out that the blog is too damn biased towards some computer or another, being always the wrong one of course. In my defence, I can only say that I have my own personal history of gaming, and cannot re-learn to play Amstrad games as good as I play Spectrum games, for example. In 30+ years, anyone would get so used to their own ways of playing, that it would be nearly impossible to "mend" that "problem", because as adults, we do have more to live for now than just games. You are welcome to do the same comparisons as I have done, from your own perspective - it might even give some different sort of perspective in art appreciation and understanding as well as how to play games on a machine that not so many people had in the 80's. One such has already been posted in a way, for Turbo Esprit in the comments section by "paperinik", thanks a bunch for the input.

In December, I did a spreadsheet-type table of games and machines that I have done so far for the blog, which clearly pointed out that at that point, the ZX Spectrum was only a few wins behind the C64, while some Spectrum fans were thinking that the C64 had a much bigger advantage then. Currently, there are already so many games on the blog that I have a hard time keeping a count of the winners myself, not that it really matters to me in any case. It clearly does matter to some people. If there now happens to be a clearer bias towards some computer or other, it is because I haven't kept count. But anyway, I do have an updated list. The two following paragraphs are copied and slightly modified from my "So far so good" post from December.

The tables below show a list of games and computers/consoles they were released on (R), and you'll also find which platform each game was originally released on (O) - if it is absolutely known for certain; which I think are better than the rest (X) and which have been mathematically declared the winners of each blog entry (W). Additionally, I have marked versions that surprised me in some positive way with an "S", and known unreleased conversions with a "U", whether or not they were found and belatedly released. And for one final obscurity in the tables, unofficial conversions have been marked with a "Uo". In a left-to-right order, the machines listed are as follows:

Arcade, Apple ][, Atari 2600, Atari 7800, Atari 800-variables, Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, Acorn BBC Micro/Electron, Commodore 16, Commodore Plus/4, Commodore 64/128, DOS-based PC's, Intellivision, MSX, NEC PC-8801, Nintendo Entertainment System, Sharp X-1, Sinclair ZX Spectrum, VIC-20. In the final column, I have mentioned any other machine that the game was  released on, which hasn't been featured all that much previously to warrant a new column.

Click on the picture to view it bigger.

The ones in the last column are, for clarity's sake: Colecovision (in Bump 'n' Jump), TI-99/4a (in Aztec Challenge), Enterprise 128 (in Raid Over Moscow), Windows PC (in Paratroopers), TRS-80 CoCo (in Donald Duck's Playground), Nintendo Game Boy Color (in Toobin'), Sega Master System (in Moonwalker and Summer Games), Sega Megadrive/Genesis (in Moonwalker), Sega SG-1000 (in Mikie) and Nintendo Game Boy (in Bionic Commando).

If this table doesn't give you a clear view of the way things have been going lately, I don't know what does. Counting only the mathematical wins here, this is what we get:

1. Commodore 64 - 23 wins.
2. ZX Spectrum - 11 wins.
3. Arcade - 7 wins.
4. Atari 8-bit - 5 wins.
5. Commodore Amiga & Atari ST - 4 wins each.
6. NES - 2 wins.

There is a reason why the list looks like it does. Since Winter Games, I have done 13 requests, most of which were from C64 fans, and sometimes the requests that were made ended up in the benefit of another "team", if you wish to think of it as such. In the meantime, I tried to look for games originally made for other machines that raised my interest, and would make a good entry. My methods of searching for new games to compare are mostly based on looking through Top 100 lists or other good reviews on my usual haunts, and I cannot bloody well choose some game that I really dislike or am otherwise incapable of giving a fair review on. So isometric 3D adventures, RPG's and simulation games are mostly the unlucky ones that I have to leave out. (If any of you readers wished to write a proper comparison about games in any of those genres, the help would very appreciated.) Also, I haven't had time to make enough research for games I don't know as much about as some of my old favourites, which take enough time as it is, so I have usually taken the easy way out just to create more content for the blog. So, there's another reason to lay back on my rate of posting, and concentrating on giving more stage time for other performers - it only needs more time from me. I know nobody asked all this information from me, but considering some of the complaints about being biased, there's your reason.

As another repeated final word on this subject: please do not look at the overall scores, or any scores for that matter, as being the whole truth. You're the players, judge the games by yourselves to have a better idea of what I'm trying to say here. If you're a gamer, as most of you are, the machines you love are only as good as the games you love to play on them. Besides, when all other excuses fail, you can always console yourselves by the fact that most (if not all) of the machines featured on the blog have some properly interesting games that were exclusively released on them. If you have some worries over your favourite computer or console, let it be for the sake of having very little representing entries in the comparison list.

This second statistics bit intrigues me more personally, because it is the Top 20 of the most clicked entries by you lot (Blogger doesn't count my own clicks). I'm writing this on the 31st of July, so it's not completely up to date, but it should be close enough to the current list.

708 - The Goonies
691 - Unique Games! - Part 2
655 - A History of Finnish Games, Part 1
612 - Commando
605 - The Great Giana Sisters
540 - A History of Finnish Games, Part 2
521 - A History of Finnish Games, Part 3
487 - Platoon
465 - DuckTales
454 - Cobra
437 - Saboteur 1 + 2
419 - Wizball
385 - The Sentinel
360 - Stunt Car Racer
357 - Winter Games Part 2
345 - Winter Games Part 1
338 - Booty
305 - Bruce Lee
295 - Aztec Challenge
287 - Dynamite Dan

I chose to include this list here because the list on the right of the main page thing doesn't really give a completely realistic view of things. What the "Current Top 10" item has done is advertise some entries that were popular at the time of including the item on the blog, making all of them more popular for a brief time. However, it doesn't show everything that is currently being most clicked on anymore, so I'm not entirely sure the item thingy works quite as well as it should, and therefore, I might take it off in the near future.

Anyway, it appears my History of Finnish Games entries are surprisingly popular, and from all the other games, the ones based on movies or other well known cultural items are among the most popular as well, so expect more of those in the future. Apart from those, only the highest-regarded classics appear to have a good click rate, so I suppose I'm going to have to do more of those as well...



A few years back, I had a fairly good idea of a website, which I started working on as a blueprint. The idea was sort of similar to what it later became, but with less focus on detail, and all the comparisons would have been versus battles. As my time was more limited back then, the website idea was postponed, because I didn't have the expertise to create a proper website, nor the will and time to educate myself to create one. Some of the games I originally planned to compare are still in their unfinished original state somewhere in the archives, waiting to be done properly.

Finally, I started this blog one year ago because I had some more time on my hands to do something like this for once, and I also came to realise that I don't necessarily need a proper website, as a simple blog will do just fine for my purposes. Now, I had a better outline of what I wanted to accomplish with it: compare a lot of old games for all the machines the games were made for, if possible, or in the case of newer platforms, if necessary. I didn't have a set goal to prove if any machine was better than another because I prefer it, but instead show that there are options that might be worth taking a look at, and educate myself (and hopefully others) while at it. If there ever was anything to prove, was that the quality of the game depended entirely on the quality of programming made for any particular game at hand, whichever the platform. Naturally, most of the games have so far been ones I like and know quite well myself, but on occasion, I have written some comparisons about games I knew comparatively little about, and occasionally, nothing even. But what I wanted to avoid is becoming one of those sad little trophy rooms that try to cling on to what was best about the computer/console I personally thought was best back then.

Screenshot of the blog from August 2013.
For quite a long time, FRGCB didn't have much other purpose than comparing old games in as simple and spartan a way as it is, because that is where I found my comfort in writing: focus on the games, leave the embellishments out of it as long as possible, but do it as detailed as possible, so the readers will know that some actual effort has been put into it. Of course, I felt I had to write my version of a History of Finnish Games to justify the blog title, but only more lately, there have been articles about games exclusive to certain gaming platforms, even with a special feature on new games for old machines to spice things up and educate the readers who are not all too aware of the current life the retro machines are having. That being the way of the future, it's not such a surprise if I'm now taking into account even all the recent unofficial conversions of games on retro machines if available. One year feels like such a short time, and simultaneously a long time as well, and frankly, I'm surprised this much has been accomplished in that time. Now I'm thinking of something really big, which will probably not take place until 2015, but you will know when it has come. For the near future, however, I will be concentrating on giving more room for computers and consoles that have so far been left out of the spotlight for whatever reason, as well as fixing old comparisons.


So, now I can only hope that I'll stick to my words and create even more balanced content, even if this will take some focus off of my primary readership. I would like to thank you all for your readership, and hope you're all in for the ride to be continued... =)



  1. That's kind of risky to even try a comparison between Kick Off 2 and Sensi. You'll most inevitably summon the nerd rage in lots of people:)

    But regarding that, and while I love Kick Off 2, I just can't understand how some people find it more realistic that Sensible. For me it's like human pinball, and that's as fun as it sounds.

    And also while i used to like Stuart Campbell's writing during the Amiga Power days, he and Dino Dini have some kind of personal vendetta against each other for a long time, so I don't really take Stu's words seriously when it comes to this issue.

    1. I completely agree with you, at least regarding KO2/Sensi. Particularly the human pinball bit. =D I haven't heard of Stuart Campbell before I came across his article, because we had our own computer and gaming magazines here in Finland, and at least for a northerner such as myself, it was rare to be able to get any foreign magazines at all in the 80's and early 90's. Some of my friends had Amiga magazine cover disks but didn't know how they got them, because I never saw any foreign mags... But anyway, the timeline is pretty convincing, if nothing else. If there's a vendetta, I couldn't care less. =D